There is a time and a place for stages races to be long, epic stages back to back. But thankfully, that’s not what Lasseters Easter in the Alice is about. The three days of mountain bike racing in Alice Springs is a mix of a long marathon, with two shorter days filled with challenging, hand-built singletrack right in Australia’s Red Centre.
Twisty, Alice Springs goodness. (c) Tim Bardsley-Smith
Here at MarathonMTB.com, we love long events. The demands of races like the Mongolia Bike Challenge, or Transalp, or The Pioneer are immense. Both in the training and preparation, the day-to-day mental strength, and the equipment and logistical costs of getting there with you and your equipment in good shape.
Races like Port to Port, Cape to Cape, Hellfire Cup, The Redback and of course Easter in the Alice are a lot easier – especially the last 3, with the start and finish lines typically almost right outside your accommodation door. The stages tend to be shorter, and while it won’t be a marathon experience each day, the upshot is you don’t have the marathon hangover either!
The stages of Easter in the Alice
The stages at Easter in the Alice for 2018 just about follow those used in 2017. The race organisers (ie, the local mountain bike club) know how to string the best trails together to create a course that thins out the group and has the right about of challenge, the perfect balance of grit and grins, and something that rewards you right until the end.
Mountain biking in Alice Springs has some sand – but it’s certainly not the defining feature. (c) Tim Bardsley-Smith
Stage One – the marathon
Let’s not beat around the bush – stage one is the big one, and it’s the opening round of the Australian XCM (cross-country marathon) Series. So while that might mean a few people at the front are looking to kick start the marathon season with a win or podium, snare some series points or even look for Australian Team qualification… and so the elite race tackles 75km with 800m of climbing. But all other classes race 58km with 600m of climbing – all killer, no filler.
Early morning starts are ideal for racing in Alice. (c) Tim Bardsley-Smith
The start is fast with 10km of double-track to break up the numbers, and let those with lots of nervous energy burn it up. Then the course moves into singletrack on the west side of town, including Hell Line. The course moves t the eastern trails and expect about 70% singletrack for the day. Find out more on the event website.
Whether you’re racing for elite glory or to challenge yourself, this is still the longest day of the 3 and if you go too deep today, finishing the stage race might be tricky. Use the drink stations, and hydrate well during the race. Don’t miss our hydration tips to stay in the best shape!
What to drink for a marathon MTB race?
Stage two – the technical test
Stage two might involve some flat legs, depending how you tackled stage one. For the elite racers at Lasseters Easter in the Alice this might be more of a fun stage if the goal was a great position in the marathon. Either way, expect a slightly slower pace – but mostly due to the technical nature of the trails.
Singletrack in Alice Springs can be fast and flowing, built along natural lines favoured by wildlife for decades – or it can be tight and technical, drawing your focus in close. Stage two is more of the latter, with trails that demand your attention, and reward your senses with the places they take you, not to mention the feeling of achievement. Nothing is ‘extreme’ but it takes skill, and sometimes just slowing down, to master some sections.
(c) Tim Bardsley-Smith
In the end, stage 2 covers 24km with 300m climbing. But don’t be surprised if your average speed is a lot slower than the previous day! Full stage details and a map can be found online.
Stage Three – saving the best for last
Even when racing a three day stage race there is a sense of relief when the last day arrives. Sure, we all love riding and racing mountain bikes, but not waking up for a set start time is pretty good too. Lucky thing this is the last day, and the race puts the most fun into the final 37km, which takes you up only 350m of hills.
Justin Morris on the multitude of trails in Alice Springs. c. Ken Napier
With about 5km of firetrail to let the front riders make a selection, the race then tackles fast and flowing trails, so when you hit the slower, more technical terrain there are no bottle necks.
Everyone loves the Telegraph Station trails.
This day stays within the confines of the Telegraph Station reserve, where many of the trails get more use, so they are buff, fast, and full of fun.
Expect a great morning out, with fun and camaraderie, plus plenty of time after the stage to swap stories from that day and the whole event. For more stage details check out the event website.
So is a visit to Alice Springs for you? Well that depends if you like great natural riding, dry conditions, a friendly event, a passionate club and riding your bike in a truly unique beautiful location.
We think it’s great, so hopefully we’ll see you there.
You can find the full details for the Lasseters Easter in the Alice online.
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